Friday, October 28, 2011


Thursday, 27 October, 7:00 pm it kinda sorta started to snow.

By 7:15 it was real snow. Big fluffy flakes the size of quarters. The earliest I can ever remember snow is Halloween. I think this is the earliest snowfall in my lifetime.

28 October 2011 5:50 am

And the snow remained throughout the day!

Almost 4:00 pm

And there's a winter storm watch on for tomorrow afternoon.

This is not good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Patience and

...determination. From the archives:

28 March 2004. She's gonna blow!

This Wednesday L and I will have been together for 8 years.

I think everyone should enjoy their horse like I enjoy L. She's a complete delight to hang out with and every trip is just about the best ride ever.

I have however, on a couple of occasions, said something about challenges in our "early days".

I wasn't a beginner when I brought L home. I wasn't an expert either. But I did have the supervision of a talented professional with 35 years experience. Thankfully.

L, being a smart, bold, dominant horse, was a tough nut starting from day one. For a very long time, years in fact, I thought I'd never get it. After months of ground work, showmanship and lungeing 5 days a week, she still thought I was an idiot.

Oh crap

I was determined to make things work. Day after day I just had at it. I tried to be observant and find what worked and what didn't.

I learned 2 things I feel are paramount in all aspects of horsemanship.
  • Timing. Your horse lives in the moment. Work with your horse in the moment. You can't stop and think about whether your horse just did the right thing or the wrong thing. By the time you think about it the moment is gone - along with any opportunity there might have been with it. That was a huge problem for us for a long time. I had to think about what was going on. That was disastrous when we started under saddle. Nothing really bad happened but clearly I needed work.

  • Subtlety. There's a little timing here too. L is a very smart horse. I found with her you better notice things. That is to say, if she tests you then you're already at a disadvantage. If you didn't notice her thinking about testing you she'll think you're a moron. If she thinks she's smarter than you she's going to take over.

    In contrast to that I know a horse that can get a little flighty sometimes. With her she'll look to you for reassurance. She needs a lot of reassurance. But it's really meaningful only when she looks for it. And all you have to do is notice she looked for it and make sure she knows you noticed. That makes everything right with her world.
Oh and I'm still not an expert.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The fall foliage has been pretty dull around here this year.

22 October 2011

The leaves go from green to a dull rust red, weak washed out yellow or brown and then the leaves drop. I don't think I've seen a single flaming orange or brilliant crimson tree anywhere. Even the local meteorologist during the weather forecast last commented on the dull colors.

I have no idea why this is the case. Some years are better than others of course but this year the foliage is notably boring. I know stressed trees tend to be more colorful and I know sick trees tend to be less colorful. That's about all I know about foliage.

But here, this is a common sight this season:


Here's something to suit the season!

Roasted butternut squash and red bell peppers

This is a simple dish of roasted butternut squash, red bell peppers, chopped garlic and fresh rosemary.

Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Peel and seed a butternut squash, cut into half inch cubes
  • Cut 1 red bell pepper into half inch squares
  • Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, chopped garlic and some fresh rosemary
Roast for 30 or 40 minutes. This is equally good as a side dish or a light main course. I'll bet a glass of syrah will go very nicely with it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Not hounds

These are not hounds.
These. Are dogs.

I was so very proud of L!

The entire weekend was just insanely beautiful for this time of year. The weather is usually quite nice over the Columbus Day holiday here in New England but not this nice.

Sunday 9 October 4:15 pm

It was dry and pleasant and there wasn't even a wisp of a cloud as far as you could see in every direction.

L has had issues with dogs as far back as I can remember. She tries to stomp them. Pictured there above are a couple of our barn dogs and she's ok with them in the barn. Even that took years and if they're out of their crates sniffing around while she's on cross ties things can still get a little dicey.

A year or so ago a neighbor was out running his dog loose in the field while we were riding. He and L faced off at about 30 yards. The dog not the neighbor. And I'm thinking oh crap. I'm really sorry but if he comes charging down here barking L's going to kill him. They stared at each other for what must have been 2 or 3 minutes. I don't know what she said to him but he got all timid and put his tail between his legs and (thankfully!) ran back to his master.

So I was quite thrilled to be out there with the dogs. Her first time ever outside the barn with dogs. And the big black one there. The Gordon. She's not particularly bright and she got in around L's feet there a little bit. L was very careful not to hurt her.

And when we all got some momentum going I look alongside and that little Jack Russell was proudly heeling her.

A good time on a beautiful day and a great exercise for L.

And it looks like Monday, the 10th, was the last of the corn this season. This was a really good ear of corn for this time of year.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This one is special

We see Monarch butterflies all season long around the barn. This one here is special.

1 October 2011

It was just a few weeks ago I learned that Monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat milkweed. I had no idea. That's probably why we see them around the barn so much. There's milkweed everywhere.

Sometime when I was a little kid I had learned about the migration of the California Monarch butterflies. So well known I suppose because they gather in great clouds to migrate. And for some reason I was left with the impression the migration was unique to the California butterflies.

I had no idea that our local Monarchs migrate. I guess all Monarch butterflies migrate.

It wasn't until 1975 that the winter destination of our local butterflies was known. Years of investigation by a Canadian zoologist found the winter destination of the eastern Monarch butterflies. An assistant found the exact destination on 9 January 1975.

Which brings me to the little guy pictured above. He's special. Yes that is a male. Monarch butterflies live for 2 months. The reproductive cycle in this guy however has gone dormant and he'll live for 7 months. He's going to migrate. He'll travel only during daylight. Cruising 20 kmh at an altitude of 50 meters. Eating only milkweed. At night.

His destination is a 60 square mile territory in central Mexico. The butterflies gather there with as many as 20 million of them in an area 1/3 the size of a football field. There his reproductive inclinations will become active. He and billions of his friends will make more butterflies to migrate northward next Spring.

I think that's rather amazing. I'll bet he's in Washington DC by now!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Summer 2011

Sometimes I get behind with my "picture of the season" and I'll make my pick within a few months. Sometimes I have a lot of pictures which speak of the season.

But this summer I knew the instant I saw it. It's this one.

10 July 2011

One can clearly see that's a sparkling summer day. The first cut hay baled in the background. Some farm equipment. Corn is coming up. I took that picture while riding L back from the woods. It was around 4:00 in the afternoon. That was a most perfect summer day.

I've got half a mind to make that picture into a poster.
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